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Historical Materials from Southern Patagonia
Narrative of Four Voyages (extract), 1823
a North American adventurer meets the canoe people of the Strait of Magellan
Journal -- May 1823:    10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 

May 9th. — This afternoon we were visited by a great number of the natives in canoes. As soon as they had approached within hearing, they commenced singing in a plaintive strain, accompanied with a variety of gestures, which I afterward learned were symbolical tokens of friendship. When they had come within a few yards of the vessel they ceased paddling, and appeared to be waiting for some encouragement to advance. I therefore made signs for them to come on board. These signs were either misconstrued or else they wanted more time to examine the exterior of the schooner before they ventured on board. From their manoeuvres, inspection, gestures, and consultations, it appeared to me as if they were doubtful whether the Wasp was actually a big canoe or a monster of the deep.

After paddling round the vessel, and critically examining her fore and aft, some of them approached her on the larboard side, and two of the men at length ventured to come on board. I received them in the most friendly manner, and invited them to partake of such provisions as we had at hand — beef, pork, potatoes, and bread, to which I helped them plentifully. They readily partook of the beef, and appeared so extravagantly fond of the potatoes that I regretted I had not a larger supply, having only a limited quantity on board as a preventive of the scurvy. The pork they promptly rejected, and scarcely tasted of the bread. This circumstance might lend some support to an hypothesis lately advanced, and sustained with considerable ability, that the aborigines of America are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.

As many of their canoes were now alongside I distributed food and some trifling presents to all of them. As they appeared to set a peculiar value on scraps of iron, or any article made of that material, I contrived to supply every one with a piece of an old hoop, a broken hinge, a crooked pump-bolt, or a rusty spike; while to the females I gave each a string of beads. They seemed much delighted with my apparent liberality, and frequently pointed upwards as they mumbled over a few unintelligible words, among which I could distinguish one which sounded like Setedos, which I afterward understood to signify the Deity.

Previous to their departure, the chief, whose name was Cheleule, made a short speech to his subjects, who immediately responded to it in a kind of chorus, or devotional anthem, in which they often repeated the word Setedos, at the same time pointing to heaven with much apparent awe and reverence. When this ceremony was finished they all paddled for the shore, and repaired to their wigwams in the village, which was about three-quarters of a mile from the vessel.

Source: "Narrative of Four Voyages", Capt. Benjamin Morrell Jr., New York, 1832
Transcribed: April 2007